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April 27, 2015
Yoga and Breastfeeding
I hope this will encourage mothers to post information in the post natal Yoga section.
The first few weeks of a baby's life are the most magical and difficult time for a new parent. Establishing breastfeeding can be particularly challenging for a new mother. Surrounded by messages of how breast is best, she can know intellectually that nursing is the best thing for a baby, yet be astonished that something natural can be so challenging.
The act of breastfeeding for a mother is deeply satisfying, but it requires physical and emotional work. Many mothers require 500 or more additional calories per day while nursing. As she gets accustomed to feeding her baby every two hours, supporting eight to twelve pound babies in any arm position is exhausting. Yoga can help with the aches and pains that come with this very real workout.
Carrying a baby can put strain on the upper body, especially the back, shoulder blades and triceps. Once a doctor has given the mother permission to resume light exercise, here are some asanas to help ease into this new part of life.
Garudasana, or Eagle pose, using just the arm position
Gormukhasana or Cow Face pose
Vrikshasana or Tree pose
Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide-legged Forward Bend, with arms interlocked behind the back
Bhujangasana or Cobra pose
Marjariasana or Cat-Cow pose- this pose is especially helpful in releasing the strain that mothers feel from hunching to feed a baby.
Jumping or strenuous poses are to be avoided, as well as any strong twisting poses. Iyengar Yoga teacher Sheila Haswell recommends against strong backbends, as they can reduce lactation.
Just as important as the physical stretching, is the time and self-care of Yoga. The sheer demands of a newborn can be overwhelming, and nursing mothers in particular are vulnerable to the feeling that their body is not their own. Taking five minutes every day, even in the bathroom on the floor, to do some stretches and repeat a mantra that is meaningful can help a mother feel that her tasks are manageable.
Drinking plenty of water is necessary for breastfeeding and should be done before any light Yoga practice. Trying to maintain good posture while nursing and remembering to bring the baby to the breast, rather than leaning down to feed the baby, will help reduce strain over time. The immunity boost of Yoga is powerful protection for mother and baby during this time.
April 27, 2015
Four Valuable Postnatal Yoga Techniques
After having a baby, many women in the postnatal period turn to yoga to help them strengthen and re-balance their bodies and improve their energy levels and vitality. Yoga also offers a new mom many ways to relax and rejuvenate. A great way to meet other new moms and build a support network is by joining a postnatal yoga class at your local yoga studio. The following are four valuable postnatal yoga techniques:
Kegel Exercises in Child's Pose
Kegel exercises correct incontinence and strengthen the pelvic floor. You can do a series of Kegel exercises in child's pose. Child's pose will also stretch the muscles in your pelvic floor and help to relax any tension in your groin area. Kegel exercises are done by squeezing the pelvic muscles that stop the flow of urine. Begin by squeezing these muscles for a count of five, holding for a count of five and then release for a count of five. Repeat five to ten times and slowly increase the length of each contraction in duration.
Modified Sun Salutations
The Sun Salutation encompasses every large muscle group in the body. It stimulates and warms up the entire body, releasing endorphins and circulating new oxygen and blood throughout your body. If you are just returning back to your yoga practice or are beginning a new yoga practice, a modified sun salutation series called a Lunar Salutation may be more appropriate. The Sun Salutation has a series of poses, so please refer to a good yoga manual or DVDto learn the sequence. Do three to ten repetitions, depending on how you feel on any given day.
Viparita Karani or Legs Up the Wall Pose
A restorative pose such as legs up the wall pose helps to open the chest and deepen your breathing. It is also very relaxing and helps to circulate blood throughout your entire body. In order to get into legs up the wall pose, scoot next to the wall with your bottom touching the wall and then gently lie down as you extend your legs up the wall. Stay in this pose for five to ten minutes and remember to breathe deeply and fully.
Shavasana with a Blanket, Bolster and an Eye Bag
Shavasana is a deeply restorative pose that is fondly referred to as corpse pose. Lie down on your yoga mat with a bolster under your knees and a warm blanket covering your body. If you have a lavender-filled eye bag, place it over your eyes. The eye bag doesn't have to be filled with lavender, but lavender has a very relaxing and soothing aroma and therapeutic effect. Stay in shavasana for ten to twenty minutes, resting deeply.
About Teaching Yoga to New Mothers
The first couple of months for the new mother brings intense emotions as she learns to adjust to her new baby, and her new role as a mom. This huge responsibility, mixed with hormones that are nonetheless new to her body (and can remain for months if she's breast-feeding), can lead to mood swings and even melancholy.
A perfect treatment for this exhaustion and mental tension is a yoga class, but keep in mind, your job as a teacher would be to make certain your student is not rushing into anything too soon.
Physicians and midwives recommend that a new mother wait for at least 6 weeks (8 months, if she's had a C-section) prior to hitting the yoga mat. Establish how long it's been since she gave birth. She may have practiced yoga regularly throughout her pregnancy, but she does not have the same body she had then. If this pregnancy wasn't her first, her recovery time will not always be the same.
The abdominals would be the muscles most impacted by being pregnant, and so these would be the muscles to focus on. It is advised to encourage students to reacquaint themselves with this particular region. By focusing on the abdominals, this will produce balance so their backs are supported. The lower back is likely to be the determining factor if they're working the abs the right way. If it hurts, they've gone beyond their capability.
Shoulders and Neck
The shoulders and neck are regions that can be extremely sore in the postpartum time period. If the new mom has any complications when feeding, she's going to find that feeding the baby is a very stressful time. Whenever a woman is stressed, she has a tendency to pull her shoulders up by her ears, which produces a lot of pain around the neck and shoulders. Merely carrying a new child around will strain the upper back again, simply because the inclination is to hunch more when holding the baby rather than standing up straight. Yoga shoulder poses such as the (Reverse Prayer Pose), the (Cow Face Pose), and the (Eagle Pose) which helps loosen the muscle tissues within this region, can greatly help these areas.
Towards the end of the first eight months of motherhood, the postpartum mother should be prepared to resume her regular yoga routine, but should be reminded to continue to listen to her body. She will be able to turn to yoga to relieve the stresses of everyday life, while raising children.
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